Saturday, April 30, 2011

Riding Out the Storms

How much can you take of what life gives you? How many blows can you take? Knock downs? Are you willing to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward? Are you able to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take another step into the winds of change that seem, nay, feel like they are working against you?

The Tri-State area has endured of late some seriously stormy weather that has knocked people's spirits down, never mind their trees, and homes. Many of us have felt Mother Nature working against us as we were continuously pummeled day after day with storms. It’s been tiring; wearing; annoying; frustrating, and; exasperating. It’s been what it’s been.

Life shells out its own kind of storms – financial, relationship, marital, job-, health- or family-related. Gray clouds of discouragement gather around us, leaving us to feel as if no sun can ever shine through again. Rough winds blow in unwanted climate change with such intensity, of such uncertainty that you struggle to keep your footing when standing against them. Lightning flashes of reality offers within the stormy situation such brutal clarity that change is coming, that it’s here, and moving through whether you like it or not. Claps of thunder hammer home the reality, relentlessly rumbling its truth through you to the core. And the rain torrentially pours around you, drowning you as the emotion of it all floods over you, leaving you feeling helpless and out of control.

How do we weather the storms that Mother Nature and Life send our way? One storm at a time, that’s how. Mother Nature sends one storm at a time; we’ve been blessed over the last two weeks to have a break between them: to assess any damage, evaluate what happened, recover and deal with it, and become better prepared as we anxiously awaited the next forecasted storm moving in on us. Life sends us one storm at a time, and as in those Mother Nature imparts, we can feel pummeled. In Life’s storms, we must ride them out one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. We must evaluate what’s at hand, assess collateral damage, determine the best plan of action in dealing with it, then take the necessary steps to implement recovery with focus and determination. Life may send more than one storm at a time, and in this case, we must measure the severity of each storm, prioritize how and what we deal with first, then multi-task the necessary steps to move through them.

In storms of both Mother Nature and Life, the one thing we must always remember and never forget is to have faith as we ride these storms out. Faith in that Higher Power to guide us, protect us and support us as we move through these storms. We must remember to trust that these storms make us stronger, and help us more deeply discover who we are and a strength we never even imagined we had. We must remember that we are not alone but supported in either type of storm; even under the darkest cloud of seemingly impending doom, we have support that’s only one reach away, one request for help away. We must remember to know hope in order to keep hope alive that all will be okay, even better after the storms have passed.

Storms are never pleasant but what we can always count on, despite the number of days we endure these relentless storms, the Sun is always shining on the other side of those dark looming clouds. It’s always there. If we can remember this important fact during the dark and stormy nights of severe weather and Life’s challenges, we then truly embrace a knowing of faith, trust, support and hope.

Please join me in sending Love and offering up prayers for all those in the Tri-state area plagued by flooding and storm damage, and especially for those victims of tornados that blew through the South last week.

For more information how you can help support those in recovery from Mother Nature's storms, please visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We Are All Columbine

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 20 will mark the 12th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. This date is forever etched into my memory as a young woman arriving fresh from Kentucky into a stunned and grieving community, but not as deeply and painfully burned into memory of those who were in the building that day.

On Wednesday, April 20, 1999, I left Kentucky for a new life in Colorado. Earlier in the month, while in Denver for a job interview, I connected with a coworker’s brother who lived in a beautiful apartment complex called The Fairways at Raccoon Creek where I obtained rental information for my return later in the month. The apartments were in Littleton, Colorado across the road from Clement Park, across Clement Park from Columbine High School. On my first day’s drive, I stopped in Kansas for the night, calling home to let my folks know I was safe. It was then that I learned about a school shooting. I continued west the next morning towards my new life, arriving in Denver later than evening, arriving at my temporary home, a LaQuinta Inn just outside of downtown Denver. Tired from the drive and hungry, I got a bite and went right to bed. It wasn’t until the next morning that the reality of what happened two days earlier sunk in, not only for me but for the rest of the city, state, and world, as more details unfolded. You couldn’t miss it; it was on every local and national news station: scenes replayed from helicopter vantage points; ground footage of bloody teenagers running for their lives; interviews with students, their parents, faculty, law enforcement, anyone who was in the vicinity at the time of the incident. I sat in my motel room watching for hours, sobbing uncontrollably.

I later returned to the Fairways to secure my apartment. Getting into the area required credentials and was like getting into a war zone. On the road's edge of Clement Park, a makeshift memorial developed in memory of those who lost their lives that day; for all except the two that spearheaded the rampage. My heart was immediately anchored in the community of Littleton. I had a stake in all that this community was going through, the grief, the anger, and the confusion of how such a thing could happen in such a charming community. I met families who were impacted by the shooting; parents who knew nothing of the safety of their children for hours afterwards, teens who witnessed their friends injured or killed.

Littleton united to mourn the losses, honor those lost, and to begin a healing process that would take many, many years for this community to even begin to experience. Media trucks took up residence everywhere throughout Clement Park for a month and a half. Memorabilia of stuffed animals, candles, notes, flowers, trinkets, letters, signs, and other such items collected throughout the park’s sidewalks with designated areas for each of those whose life was lost that dark day. People from the metro-Denver area, as well as surrounding metro communities, towns, even out of state, came to pay their respects, in the hopes of walking away with a better understanding of what happened, how it happened, why it happened. Many left only shaking their heads and in tears. Someone raised fifteen crosses for the dead; outrage broke when two of those crosses were raised for the two young killers. Two of the crosses were taken down amidst division of anger and forgiveness. While the effort was noble, no one at this time felt themselves in a forgiving mood.

Thousands of lives were changed that day. Everyone in the metro-Denver area questioned how such violence could be felt or created by two young teenagers. Those in surrounding neighborhoods questioned a sense of safety for themselves and their children. Those in school that day, freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and all faculty and staff who lost peers, students, and colleagues suffered post-traumatic stress, haunted by nightmares. For months afterwards, customer service reps or business connections asked me how “we” were doing, and let me know that “we’d” been in their prayers.

The following fall, Clement Park was again its lush green landscape that for months was trampled into dirt by mourners visiting the makeshift memorial. Much debate around who was at fault, how to better secure schools, and sorting out all the details of what actually transpired that fateful morning was still a loud murmur in the aftermath. On the first year anniversary, and second, third, and fourth, media returned to “pick the scab” of a community desperately trying to heal the wounds that would forever leave a scar. And for several years afterwards, to the chagrin of many Littleton community members, myself included, Columbine became a tourist spot, as people would sit on or by the Columbine High School sign for photo ops. One weekend in late October, a stranger approached a friend and me asking us where the Columbine Memorial was located. After explaining it had since been gathered and stored several months earlier, the stranger’s responded with irritation: “Well, I drove a long way to come see it!”

I mourned the senseless loss of life, and I quietly grieved for the two young men who felt their only option was to act out rather than ask for help. I cheered on support for more proactive education against bullying and I cringed when everyone blamed each other. I silently believed that we ALL were responsible for Columbine in some small and indirect way: by allowing violence into video games, and our young people access to this desensitizing entertainment; by allowing children unmonitored access to the Internet and website development sites; by “respecting” teens’ privacy by not entering bedrooms; by not more closely monitoring and being aware of who our kids are hanging out with, where they are, and what they’re doing; by not talking to our children about bullying, and by not teaching children to not judge others by appearances, to respect differences, and unique personalities; by condoning in-school intimidation and arrogance by school athletes, and allowing students easier access on and off school campuses for lunch breaks; by not insisting enforcement authorities do more to investigate red flags of violence; by allowing kids to “pretend” to shoot guns at other people; by not insisting on stricter regulations for gun purchases in the name of “right to bear arms” and for making “how to make a bomb” information more easily available on the Worldwide Web. I could keep going but you get the point. We all contribute to the development of our youth’s well-being of body, mind and spirit. It takes a village. . . . .

Positive things came out of the experience as we learned some valuable lessons – law enforcement is better equipped to work more collaboratively in handling such an overwhelming experience, video games now have age appropriate ratings, and we as adults take more seriously verbal threats, real or unreal, spoken in anger by children. I hope you’ll join me for a moment of silence Wednesday, April 20 at 11:17 a.m. as I do every year to honor the memory of those lives lost so that we may remember and learn.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Our Grief and Closure

Yesterday during a Sunday visit with my dad, we looked at the things he’d recently sorted of my mom’s stuff. He and I perused all the remaining closets, rooms, cabinets and shelves still left to address when in one closet I found a pillow case stuffed with something. It was my Baby Tender Love doll from my preschool-aged childhood! Her hair was matted, badly suffering cowlicks. She still wore a little blue-print “onesie” gown that my mother had made for her (one of several little outfits). Other than a rip in the bottom hem and having a bad hair day, the little gal is in pretty good shape.

After I came home, I pulled Baby Tender Love out for a visit and the childhood memories came flooding back. We lived in an old dilapidated rental house on Redhill-Maxwell. As a child it seemed huge, though I remembered during a return visit as a teenager how small the rooms and yard really were. I remember playing with my dolls while sitting on the floor in the bedroom that I shared with my little brother, including my Barbie, PJ and Ken dolls for which Mom also made very fashionable clothes. I suppose all those outfits were pitched, though I did see a naked Barbie on a shelf. Evidently she's been a Nudist the last few decades.

As I remembered these memories, I hugged Baby Tender Love close to me as if she were my baby again. The rush of memories suddenly flashed forward to April 1996 when I lost my own baby at eleven weeks, and with it, the dream of being a mother. Grief struck out of nowhere and tears flowed for the little baby girl (my intuitive sense) I carried and called "Peanut." In hindsight, I now realize that I never experienced closure around this loss.

Before mom passed, I abhorred funerals. I never felt comfortable being in the same room as a dead body. Yet, I also recognized the event for what it was – closure for those who loved the one lost. When mom died, my experience was different. After seven plus years of spiritual development, and understanding life as we know it in human form is simply energy transitioning into spiritual form, I felt differently about funerals. I initially resented the visitation, because I was tired, grieving and I didn't want to meet and greet others. But I soon realized they also needed closure to deal with the passing of a friend, neighbor, relative, coworker and an acquaintance. After it was said and done, I was grateful for the visitation because I learned how much Mom impacted the lives of so many, and how they loved and appreciated her. It was such a gift.

As for my mom’s body being on display, her funeral was the first I’d been to since stepping into my spiritual journey. It wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward at all. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to have been present with my mom upon her death, and for the funeral that allowed my family and me to have closure through the final farewell as we prepared to return her to Mother Earth.

With my unborn child, there was no farewell; no funeral service or closure that signified she was gone; no opportunity to say “goodbye” after our short-lived relationship was over. There was only hemorrhaging through the night, labor pains and cramps as my body gave premature birth to the fetus. There was fear, uncertainty, and disconnect with the reality that I was losing my baby. The next morning was the doctor visit, then outpatient surgery for a DNC, then home to carry on as if none of it had ever happened. As if I’d awaken from a bad dream. I’d dealt with the grief off and on for several years afterward, and truly feel peace around it, despite the annual reminder of the lost dream of my being a mother to what would be a beautiful fourteen-year-old today. I think of “Peanut” every December, the month that would’ve been her birthday had she gone full-term.

Last evening as I held that baby doll, I strangely felt a connection I never felt with the child I lost. A physical connection that tapped right into grief left unfinished. A connection to what it might have felt like to hold my baby for the first time, if only briefly. I connected with that grief and felt a greater sense of closure. I was able to “hold” energetically my unborn baby to say “goodbye” as I embraced the Baby Tender Love that I loved so dearly as a child.

Grief is a process, ongoing and in many phases. Rushing grief is unproductive; denying grief only feeds its strength into volcanic releases. I've dealt with the loss of my unborn baby. Now this grief feels complete. Thanks Mom for hanging on to Baby Tender Love for me. And thank you Baby Tender Love for allowing me to say the goodbye I never had the chance to say fifteen years ago.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Exhaling Love, Peace and Harmony for All

My heart aches. It aches for the loss of three teenagers in Franklin County, Kentucky. It aches for the parents who are intimately experiencing this loss. It aches for friends who have lost loved ones. It aches for the loss of life in Japan, and the familiarity of life for those that survived. It aches for the planet that struggles to manage all the abuse that humanity puts it through. It aches for the loss of my Belle the Beagle. It aches for the loss of dreams that could’ve, would’ve and should’ve been for so many.

My heart aches for the upheaval of foreign countries, and the battles fought for the right to exist, freedom and justice. It aches for the economically depressed that must further struggle for the basics of food and gas in a shaky economy. It aches for the lonely. It aches for those who are lonely within relationships. It aches for those who seek some peace in their life through external means. It aches for those who are living life in a state of confusion, a sense of helplessness, and a sense of hopelessness.

Our world as we know it is changing, on a personal, local, state, national and global level. Are we prepared for such change? Are we willing to be open to change? Are we willing let go, surrender into the flow of these changes? Are we willing to trust in something Higher than ourselves, something Higher within ourselves, to move through these changes?

The sun shines and yet I carry melancholy in my heart. I am a sensitive – and there are days I’m not sure if what I feel is mine or that of the people I love or that of the Collective Unconscious. I breathe. I breathe deep and in the exhale, send out to the world as much unconditional love, peace and harmony as my heart can tap from the supply of the Great One Divine. I am but just one person, and my breath cannot do it alone. We ALL have access to this supply of love, peace and harmony within our hearts, infinitely supplied by the Great One Divine. Are you breathing deep and exhaling God Stuff? Are you sending unconditional love, peace and harmony to countries torn in war, ripped apart in disaster, grieved in loss?

If not, please do. Breathe. Long. Deep into your heart. Exhale the breath of Love, Peace, and Harmony that is the supply of God Within. Breathe deep for others with healing intention. Breathe deep for yourself and for the world.